From the early middle Ages until the 18th century the town of Leutschau (Levoca) was one of the five most important centres of commerce, crafts and guilds in Slovakia, its fame extending as far as Hungary. 42 guilds are known to have been active in the town. The first known guild (1470) in Leutschau was that of the blacksmiths. Unfortunately the archives of Leutschau have not been preserved in their entirety. Fire struck twice, destroying part of the documents. It is assumed that the guilds of the town are even older. In the town there were also artisans of special crafts and Leutschau was also the seat of several supra-regional guilds, such as the guilds of the dyers, the tinsmiths or the Lebkuchen bakers. The products of some of the guilds, (e.g. goldsmiths, boot makers, or tanners) were well-known and sought after across the borders of Slovakia and Hungary. The history of the Leutschau guilds has its high points, but also its tragedies. Particularly in times of war - after all, Leutschau was the most prosperous town in Zips = Spis region; because of its favourable strategic position the town was invariably exploited by the warlords. This brief study offers a glimpse into the nature of the numerous guilds in the town of Leutschau. It will not only describe the guild traditions, but also the position of the guilds and master craftsmen in times of war and their relation to the market, and attendant competition.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.